Supreme Court: Pop the Champagne; Racism Is Over?

Not so fast, warns Mother Jones' Adam Serwer in a piece on today's arguments.  

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and attendees of a voting-rights rally (Getty Images)

In a piece for Mother Jones reflecting on the treatment of race and racism in today’s Supreme Court arguments, Adam Serwer says that in the eyes of the high court’s conservatives,  states — not minorities — are the ones that are still victimized by discrimination. That’s the view behind what will likely be their efforts to scrap parts of the Voting Rights Act.

“There is an old disease, and that disease is cured,” Bert Rein, the attorney leading the legal challenge to the Voting Rights Act — the landmark law intended to ensure all Americans can vote — told […] the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “That problem is solved.”

Rein represents Shelby County, Alabama, one of the jurisdictions covered by a key section of the Voting Rights Act called Section 5. Under Section 5, parts of the country with histories of discriminatory election practices have to ask for permission — or “preclearance,” in legal terms — from the Justice Department before making any changes to their voting rules. But the South, where most of the covered jurisdictions are, has changed, Rein said, and the law, although once justified, is now unfair and unconstitutional. The five conservative justices on the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “The Marshall Plan was very good too, but times change,” argued Justice Anthony Kennedy.

That’s not to say all discrimination is a thing of the past. In the eyes of the high court’s conservatives, America has transcended its tragic history of disenfranchising minorities, but there’s still one kind of discrimination that matters: Discrimination against the states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was “sort of extraordinary to say” that “Congress can just pick out … these eight states,” referring to the states covered by Section 5.

Read more at Mother Jones.